Monday, July 31, 2006

Greenwich Drunktime

I've been down to London this weekend for a party hosted by some of my girlfriend's friends from Scotland (who are not there any more). We started off with beers in Greenwich Park - quite a nice place but could do with better signposting to the toilets. Whilst on a search for said facilities I found myself up by the Royal Observatory - on top of a hill with a good view of Docklands and The City.

I realised, unexpectedly, that I'd been there before on a school trip as a kid. Back then the world was a different place and I'm not sure if Canary Wharf was even built then, never mind yer Millennium Dome. It wasn't exactly all fields, but it was definitely less built up. The observatory didn't seem to have changed much as far as I could remember. There were less of my teachers around. And I'd had more beer.

We had a game of rounders in the park (on Saturday, not when I was a kid). Annoyingly I managed to get picked last. But I'm used to that. I got my own back by getting a fantastic catch near the start and hence putting the whole other team out. They still thwapped us overall, mind. But at least I could hold my head up.

Later on it was Karaoke but not in the park as that would have been hard to arrange logistically. I did a few renditions. McFly's All About You was particularly memorable.

Travelling home the next day we had first class tickets (bought cheaply in advance, natch). There was a man in the carriage that I clocked straight away upon entry - he looked just like Richard Herring. I wanted to say "Hello. Are you Richard Herring?" to check, but the conversation would have stalled after that. I wouldn't have really wanted it to end up as a CNPS tip swapping session. I therefore never found out if it was him or not and maybe now I never will. But if you ever come across this, Mr H and you were travelling up from London on the 1645 from Kings Cross on the 30th July 2006, could you drop me an email to confirm? It would put my mind at rest. Alternatively if you are not Richard Herring but you were on the train and a man who looked like me was staring at you a bit, then drop me a line too. It would also put my mind at rest. And maybe I could put you in touch with a look-a-likes agency (I'm sure the demand for Herring-a-likes never ceases to peak). Thanks!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Outdoor nonsense

On Friday we had an away day from work out at the Rufforth North of England Activity Centre (or whatever it is called). The morning wasn't huge fun (as it comprised lots of thinking about work stuff and I had a mild hangover) but the afternoon was much more interesting as it involved lots of team building outdoor things.

First up was clay pigeon shooting. The maddest thing about this is that they give you (and indeed me) an actual shotgun that you could easily use to kill someone. All it would take would be a single lapse of concentration and then Bam, dead person, intact clay pigeon. Luckily I didn't kill anybody. If I had, I suspect I would not be writing this here now - I'd be incarcerated in a dirty jail instead.

I fully expected to not hit a single one of the targets. I thought I might get lucky and get one or two, but that would be it. I was therefore quite pleasantly surprised to find myself hitting the first two pigeons with my first two shots. What madness was this?! The only people more surprised than me were... everyone else. It went a little downhill from there and I ended up with a final score of 6/15, and fourth place in our group of seven.

Whilst shooting is a fairly individual activity, the next things all required a bit more teamwork. We had to make a bridge over some fake water. And then do some walking around on big skis that take lots of people at once.

And then we had to make a raft to go over some actual (slightly smelly) water. Our raft design was frankly crap and this manifested itself by virtue of the thing falling apart pretty quickly, dumping its incumbents into the lake. I found that my natural role in the team was to stay away from the water and use my phone to video the whole sorry thing. It was very funny though.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Evening Horses

I went to the races last night. It was the first evening meeting they've done in a while, and afterwards there was a Beatles tribute band playing. A bit too early era for me, but competent enough and they had good mop-tops.

Sunset at the races

My betting wasn't great. Ended up fifteen pounds down (plus entry, drinks, burger etc). I need to take my own advice and always bet on the favourite. It's that way for a reason.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

And you think I have a lot of iPods...

I gave in and bought a Nintendo DS Lite (white) today. It's very nice. Much better screens and a bigger stylus than the original version. I reckon it's the sixth Gameboy I've owned. I know it's not technically a Gameboy... but it is.

I also got a copy of the Brain Training game. It told me after the first play that my brain age was 63. Grrr. Stupid machine. It also made me draw a picture of a koala bear. I'm not totally sure why.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bloody Alcohol

I had a really funny thing to say. I'm sure I did. It was great. You'd have liked it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

You can't have too many babies...

One of the best things that can happen in work is that a colleague turns up in the morning with the biggest box of Jelly Babies you've ever seen:

Jelly Babies

What the photo doesn't really show is the depth of the box. It was deep. There were a lot of sweets in there. So many that we entirely failed to finish them off in a single day (which is really saying something!). Yum and indeed yum.

Later on another colleague asked me for my boss's mobile number (they perhaps should know better than to do that sort of thing...). I gave them the code, then the actual six digit number. Then another random six digits. I swear I got to about 15 digits after the code before they twigged something was up. Made me laugh, anyway.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Vouchers of Misery

Sainsbury's sent me a pile of money-off vouchers. They enable me to get money of when I spend a certain amount of money on classes of good. The six categories in question are:

1. Fresh Pizza
2. Toiletries
3. Bakery products (including cakes)
4. Fruit juice
5. Crisps and nuts
6. Frozen food

These are all things that I tend to buy anyway (and they know that, the spying hussies, from my Nectar card) and so I can't see how they benefit from this. Surely it would be better to try and tempt me to buy things I don't normally buy? Things like Catfood or SanitaryLadyProducts? What's the point in giving me a pound off when I spend five pounds on pizza when I spend at least five pounds on pizza every week? it's dumb.

And don't give me that crap about them being a very successful supermarket that know much more about marketing goods than I do. I once sold ice to a group of Eskimos (*)

You might think I'm being silly here, and I should just be happy that I have some nice vouchers and should be grateful that they are for things I often buy. Well, I'm not. So there. I'm pissed off because I forogt to take them with me. I could have saved a POUND!!!

(* This is not strictly true)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Purple toe

I foolishly and clumsily stubbed the middle toe of my right foot last night whilst I was wearing no shoes. Now it hurts and has gone kind of a purple colour. I hope it doesn't fall off.

I suppose it could have been worse. I could have stood on Lego and then stubbed my toe.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'm going to cry myself blind

The recent hot weather (I do seem to keep going on about it) seems to have brought a plague of insects to York today. It felt like I was swimming through them on the way home this evening. Not particuarly nice.

When I went for a run later on I decided to put on some insect repellant since I'd be going through some countryside areas. This was a good idea in principle, but where it fell down was that when you sweat, the repellant on your forehead starts to run into your eyes and that stings a bit and makes it hard to see. Then you run under some traffic and die. I didn't do that last bit, but I coulda done. It was that close.

My own fault for putting it on my forehead, I suppose. Oh well, Test And Learn.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hottest Day Ever!

Today is supposed to have been one of the hottest days ever ever in the UK (it's been like 8 degrees or something). It didn't affect me too much as I was in an air conditioned building for most of the day and the air-con was actually working. I heard someone on the radio saying that the worst thing you can do in this kind of heat is go out and drink lots of alcohol. That's clearly bollocks - it's one of the best things to do when it's sunny. Just find the nearest beer garden and drink cold beer. And then drink more cold beer. And then drink more cold beer. And then go and wee. And then drink more cold beer. And then go and wee. And then drink more cold beer. Etc.

But obviously, wear sunscreen.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

No nomination again

It's a hot week. I could have done with a bit of a run tonight to keep the miles up, but it was somewhere between 27 and 32 degrees depending on which forecast you believe and that's mad running. Also I'm still resting my leg a little as I hurt my left knee/lower leg (I forget which) a bit last week which led to cutting a run short early and walking the last mile and a half home. I think it's ok now, but another day or so rest won't hurt.

Also, for the 30th year running, I haven't been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, despite this being the first time I've actually had an album's worth of material under my belt. I've not even been nominated for eviction from Big Brother yet. You may say that's because I'm not in it. I say we're all in it...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Password Reset

I'm sure there's some statistic about the average work computer user forgetting their password about 50 times a month, and each phonecall to get it reset costs about five quid or something daft. To help counter these costs, my work has just installed a new thing on our intranet which lets us reset our own passwords, for three of our main systems, without having to make a phonecall. Theoretically I'm sure this has to be a good thing.

I tried it out today as I needed a password reset.

I loaded up the app, and the first thing I had to do was enter a username and password. I knew my username, but wasn't totally sure what my password was. I had a guess. It didn't work. I guessed again and got it wrong again. I tried one more time. It still didn't work but this time it also said I was now locked out. I was now confused. I wanted my password reset but I was locked out of the thing that would reset my password because I didn't know it and probably needed it reset. Something of a dilemma here.

I went back to plan A and dialed the IT helpdesk (always fun).

A man answered. He asked how I could help. I said I needed a password reset. He asked which password, and I said it was for the password management application. I felt foolish saying this. Unfortunately, the man had never heard of the password management system and so he wasn't much use. I felt a bit stuck. I tried to explain that it was a new thing, and I told him how to access it and everything, but he still couldn't help. As normal I felt I knew more about my IT problem than the IT people did.

After a short while I gave up and just figured I could get the original password I wanted reset, reset instead and I could worry about the password resetting password another time. I asked if I could do this and he said ok, but he'd have to ask me a couple of security questions first. No problem, said I. How hard could they be?

First up, an easy one. What were the eighth and ninth letters of the name of my secondary school? After working out which school this was, all I had to do was write the name down, count the letters and say them out loud. I did, and he then asked me the next question. This was harder as it involved the names of my mother. I always get these wrong as she has a first name and a middle name but she uses the middle name as her first name. Not the full version of it though - an abbreviated version. Hence when I was asked what the fourth and fifth letters in my mother's middle name were, I didn't know whether it was her full middle name, her shortened middle name or her normal first name which is a bit like a middle name because she uses her middle name as a first name. Confused? I was. I got it wrong.

I had failed the security check. Darnit.

Thankfully, rather than sending the guards round to have me thrown out onto the street, he just gave me one last chance. I nearly got this wrong too because it was about my dad's name and he has a very similar thing going on as my mum does - using a middle name as a first name. Luckily, the letters that were asked for could only have come from one of his names as the other was too short.

So finally I passed the test and the man reset my password.

This had all been so much fun that I had sadly forgotten what it was I needed to do that had made me need to get my password reset in the first place. I love technology - it makes us so much more productive.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

DVD arranging for beginners

Today I spent some time rearranging my DVDs. I was quite close to moving to a thematic classification system (ie one shelf for cartoons, one for tv series, one for films that contain half a trucker) but in the end stuck to a mostly alphabetical arrangement, divided into films I've seen and films I haven't seen. I need to work on making that second category smaller - I think it's currently at around 40 films. I'm pretty sure that there are at least two or three there that I'll never watch...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Pigeon Detection

I spent a pleasant half hour watching The Pigeon Detectives in Leeds this evening, supporting Snow Patrol. The gig was outside, and ironically although there were a lot of pigeons about, visible above and behind the stage, none could be seen from the stage and so all of them failed to be detected by the band. Such is life.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Reggae Mystery Solved?

I think I may have solved the mystery of Mr Reggae man from yesterday. I spotted that the pub nearby has a reggae night tomorrow. I'm thinking that maybe the man's carrier bag contained fliers, not stolen CDs or skunk. He probably was just trying to gauge my interest to see if it was worth while him giving me a leaflet.

My advice to him would be to hold your fliers where they can be seen. Let people know your intentions so that they can react appropriately.

I wouldn't have wanted to go though, so no harm done.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Reggae or Hip-hop...

As I was walking into town this evening to see Captain at Fibbers, I spied a black dude coming towards me carrying a carrier bag in both his hands. As he passed close by he gestured me to stop and asked me a single question: "Do you like Reggae or Hip-Hop?". I got the feeling that this wasn't an either/or question - he wasn't asking for a vote one way or the other. I think he wanted to know whether I liked those musical styles as opposed to not liking them. I said to him: "Sorry, not really no". He looked a little disappointed and carried on up the street.

I did not find out the reason for his question or what was in his carrier bag. But I have theories:

Theory 1: The bag was full of stolen Reggae and Hip-Hop CDs that he'd stolen and was hoping to sell down the pub later. He identified me as a clear music lover and thought he'd try me on the off chance.

Theory 2: The bag was full of skunk and the dude thought that asking about Reggae and Hip-Hop was a good coded way of asking me if I'd like to buy some. A way that would leave him innocent should I have turned out to be an undercover policewoman. It's legal to ask about music, it's not so legal to sell skunk (*).

Theory 3: He was bored and fancied a chat with a like-minded individual about Vanilla Ice and Madness.

Sadly, because I gave a negative answer and then parted company, I may never know which of these theories is the right one.

(* If I'm honest, I'm not totally sure what skunk is. I'm just trying to sound cool)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Doctor Two

It was the last episode of the second (new) series of Doctor Who on Saturday. The series as a whole has been a bit variable in quality, but there have been some great episodes. The one with K9 and Sarah Jane was cool (and made me cry at the end) and I also enjoyed The Girl in the Fireplace. The one with the televisions was however a bit rubbish. And as for Love and Monsters... mind you it did have ELO in it (though sadly not as an evil baddy rock band).

The final two parter was however utterly great. Possibly the best episodes I've seen this time around. And that's because it was (finally, after all these years) Daleks versus Cybermen! What the world has been waiting for methinks. It featured the best, most arrogant and plain funniest dalek dialogue I've ever heard. And at the end it was really, like really sad - I haven't cried like that since Buffy.

I'm so rubbish :-)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Orangey goodness..

I just found a Plain Chocolate Orange in my cupboard with a best before date of September 2003. I wonder if it's ok to eat?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Beer Snail

There's nothing worse than finding snail tracks on your beer glass. Absolutely nothing. It's worse than nuclear war, worse than (Celebrity) Love Island. Last night in the pub I caught one of the buggers (a snail, not a lovelorn non-celebrity) on camera...

Retrospectively it occurs to me that the best way to deal with this situation would have been to order a tequila and use the salt as a weapon. As opposed to taking a photo of the little cute monster. I'll know for next time!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Hangover cure

I had a big hangover this morning after drinking copiously last night. It was suggested to me that a traditional cure for this kind of thing is a big juicy fry-up. I, however, took the less traditional route of finally caving in and purchasing an Xbox 360. First impressions:

1. It's actually still quite ugly. Not as bad as the first one, but still not that pretty.

2. It's bloody heavy.

3. Clearly it's very powerful, but the graphics and stuff don't seem to be a huge leap from the first one. Maybe it's because I'm not watching in HD.

4. And how big is the transformer???

That probably sounds a bit negative, but tough. It does have one really good feature which is that you can turn the whole console on and off using the wireless controller. That's neat.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to playing a lot of Elder Scrolls IV in the near future. Bye bye life.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Happy blog-a-versary!

Well, here it is, the momentous post. Why? Because this is the 1000th post on this blog! I should celebrate.

I was thinking of writing a list of a thousand things I'd done since this started back on the 3rd January 2004. But that would take hours, perhaps days and would also be quite dull. Arguably it's what I've been doing for the last two and a half years in any case.

But 1000... wow! That's a lot!

Incidentally, I just spellchecked this and found that Blogger's spellcheck doesn't recognise "blog" as a word. Or "Blogger". Or "spellcheck".

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


This is not a special post. Unremarkable it is. Just a placeholder. I could write about the knocked over cyclist with the dislocated shoulder, or the summer dance or what happened when I explained my confusion over Heisenberg and Pauli. Or a multitude of other things. I won't though.

Tomorrow's post will be a special one, if I remember. I just haven't yet decided what to write. But. it. will. be. a. landmark.

Unless I forget.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Physics is fun(ny)

In conversation at work today two people were complaining that their desks were so close together that it probably violated Health & Safety laws. I, being both funny and well versed in physics, joked that it probably also violated Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. I thought this was very funny as I'd implied they were very close together. The two people however, just looked confused. And then they stopped talking and I went away.

It's only now looking back that I have realised my error. I should actually have referred to the Pauli Exclusion Principle! No wonder they were confused and didn't appreciate how funny I was! I shall have to explain my error to them tomorrow. How we'll laugh!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Bath problems

There's a problem with my bath.

Or a design flaw.

Imagine I'm running a bath (I'm wearing still some clothes, so it's not pervy or anything). I've turned on the water. It's a bit hot so I add some cold into the mix. Then I open the bottle of bath bubbles and add some in. Bubbles start to rise.

I leave the room and go and do something else - make a cup of tea, open some wine, or take off the rest of my clothes (but it's dark so it's still not pervy). I come back to the bath later and the bubbles have risen high, so high.

But something's wrong. Although the bubbles are high, the water is not. There is less water than there should be... because the plug is out. And not due to me forgetting to insert it. Oh no. It's because there's a problem with my bath.

Or a design flaw.

The water comes out so fast. The plughole is beneath. Fast water on to a plug can make the plug bounce out of its socket. And a plug once out will stay out. If this happens whilst I'm not looking, water starts to drain and if it's draining at a faster rate than it's leaving the tap, the water level will no longer rise, it will start to fall.

And this is what happened to me yesterday. For the second time.

It's really f**king annoying. I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to pick these things up in testing... All it would take is a couple of tests and it'd be like: "Derek! Derek! Come quickly! There's a problem with this bath design! Outflow exceeds inflow! We need to move the inflow to be disaligned from the outflow! Now!!!". (Engineers are very excitable in my head...)

And then they'd go back to the proverbial drawing board and redesign the flows and the holes and I'd be able to get naked whilst running a bath without having to worry about everything draining away like so much wasted time. But not in a pervy way.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

She loves me!

Today I received an email from a very pretty girl who I must have met at some point in the past. Even though it is quite a personal message, I hope she won't mind be quoting it in full here:

"Do not iagnore me pleaase, I found your email somewhere and now decided to write you. I am coming to your place in few weeks and thought we can meet each other. Let me know if you do not mind. I am a nice pretty girl. Donb't reply to this email. Emaaila me direclty at"

What an offer! But I have some reservations about her kind words:

1. Her spelling is quite atrocious. However, I assume this is because she is from Eastern Europe. And bad spelling can be cute sometimes so I haven't been put off yet.

2. She's coming to my place! Wow, I guess we will be meeting up then. I'm so excited. I just wish I remembered her...

3. "I am a nice pretty girl". Good! I wouldn't want you to visit if you were a horrible heffer!

4. Hang on... Why have you sent this to ten other people at the same time? I thought it was me you loved...

So I thought it might be wise to just check her out a little bit before emaailaing her. I went to her domain, and there was a picture of her there, and she is quite pretty as she said she was. But... there's some oaf fondling her. The bitch has a boyfriend already and has been getting my hopes up just for kicks. Gaaaaahhhhh! I'm gutted.

And to make it worse, the whole bad spelling thing was just an act as she is clearly a highly intelligent chemist who can make all kinds of drugs (though she seems to specialise in penile disfunction). The whole bad spelling thing was just a lark to lure in gullible men like me! And possibly gullible women too for all I know.

I'm glad I didn't email her. I still don't remember giving her my address though... Guess I was probably drunk.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

New Shoes

My current running shoes aren't really on their last legs, but I've done around three hundred miles in them so I decided to get a new pair. Last time I just went to a generic sports shop and got some fairly random shoes that happened to be in the sale at the time. This time I figured I'd make a little more effort, and I went to Up & Running in York. It's a proper running shop that sells things.

There was an England match on this afternoon so I went during that so that the shop wouldn't be too busy. This plan worked perfectly. There was only one other customer the whole time I was there and there were two assistants. A good ratio.

I'd been recommended to take my old shoes with me - when I got them out to show the shop girl, she managed to avoid laughing at me, but did say "yes, I think we can help you" in the same way that a specialist doctor might say that when you showed them one of your diseases. Then she made me take off my shoes and socks (luckily I had showered not too long before) and she had a look at my feet. Apparently I have good arches but my feet tend to twist a little and so I need some moderate support. Ok, whatever you say young lady. Now run and get me some shoes!

So she went to get a few appropriate pairs from where ever it is that shoe shops store shoes. All three pairs looked pretty similar to me but I could feel differences when I tried them on. One was a but funny under my feet, one was a bit tight at the end. But the first pair felt fine. Nice and comfy.

So then I had a little go on the treadmill in the shop. I've never been on one before so it was a little bit scary for me. I didn't fall off though thankfully - that would have been an embarrassing way to get a sporting injury. I also had a little run on the road outside - only a very little one though because it was baking and I was wearing jeans.

The shoes seemed ok so I bought them. At eighty nickers they may be the most expensive shoes I have ever bought! Wow. I'm wearing them now (got to get value from them!) in order to wear them in a little before I use them for any actual exercise. That may come tomorrow - I'm planning a nice run along the river and back to make use of the bridge I espied on Thursday night. It's good to have something to look forward to.